Tommy Scott knows how important weight training is as part of an overall fitness program. As Mill Creek’s defensive coordinator and linebacker coach, Scott has seen how hard work in the weight room transfers to success on the football field.
“There are several key areas that weight training improves,” he said. These areas are important not only to football players, but to anyone who strives to be physically fit.
Muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility, body composition and cardiovascular endurance are all part of an individual’s fitness, Scott explained. “Four of those five key components of a person’s fitness can be developed in the weight room,” he said.
Cardiovascular endurance is the only component not addressed through a weight training program.
Scott, who also teaches an advanced weight training class during the regular school year, said he tells his students that the heart should be thought of as a muscle which has to be exercised outside of the weight room.
“With that blend of cardiovascular exercise and anaerobic weight training, you’re taking care of all of the components of the fitness model,” he said.
LIFTING WEIGHT, LOSE POUNDS
In addition to building muscle strength, muscle endurance and improving flexibility, weight training also improves body composition, or the ratio of fat to muscle, within the body.
Scott said that while many people recognize the benefits of cardiovascular activity in terms of weight control, weight training or anaerobic exercise also plays an important part.
“What we’ve found is that weight training increases resting metabolism and that really helps people maintain and lose weight,” he said. “Improving overall body composition also improves resting metabolism. That’s why weight and height charts can be misleading. A person may overweight on a height/weight chart, yet have a very low percentage of body fat.”
Scott said body fat percentage measurements are a much more reliable indicator of whether or not a person is at their ideal weight.
Starting a weight training program is easy and inexpensive. A good foundation program can be done in as little as thirty minutes in the comfort of your own home.
Scott recommends that any individual starting a weight training program should try to do at least one exercise per muscle group.
“Nobody really has an excuse not to get in shape,” he said. “It’s just a matter of how to organize it into a well-rounded program.”
There are several simple exercises Scott suggests to target muscles in different parts of the body:
• Chest- bench press
• Upper back – pull-ups or chin-ups
• Shoulders – standing shoulder, or military, press
• Arms – bicep curls
• Triceps – push ups
• Thighs – squats with or without weight or a wall sit (put back against the wall and slide down until thighs are parallel to the floor)
• Calves – step exercise (standing on the edge a step and dropping your heels below the step and then lifting to a tip-toe position)
Scott said beginners should try to do 10 to 15 reps of each exercise with light weight. Scott said technique is more important than the amount of weight.
“If you get the technique down, everything else will fall in place,” he said. Trying to use too much weight early on can lead to injury, Scott cautioned.
“Once they get the soreness out and get proficient with those exercises, they should look to add on either sets or other exercises,” he said.
By varying the type of exercises, individuals can maintain interest in a weight training program and enjoy greater success.
“There’s so much out there,” Scott said. “With the internet, you can pretty much type in something like ‘upper body exercises’ and have all the articles you want.”
HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH
Scott recommends lifting at least two times a week for each muscle group. This can be accomplished by working upper body two days a week and lower body two days a week or by doing a split routine where upper and lower body workouts are combined.
“Ideally, if you could get three or four days of aerobic exercise and two to four days of resistant exercises, that would be the perfect model,” he said. “Try to do a little bit every day.”
Scott said each day’s exercise should take between 30 minutes to an hour at most. The workout should include 5 to 10 minutes of warm up and 5 to 10 minutes of cool down.
“With most people’s busy schedule, if they try to do more than that, then, over time, they’ll start getting tired of it and dread going in the weight room,” he said. “You have to find that happy medium.”